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U.S. Navy boots captain after fire on carrier

  • Story Highlights
  • Navy fires captain, executive officer of carrier George Washington
  • Practices on officers' ship led to massive fire on board, Navy believes
  • Flammable liquids, cigarette smoking were allowed in prohibited areas, Navy finds
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From Mike Mount
CNN Pentagon Producer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Navy fired the captain and executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington on Wednesday because of a massive fire that damaged the ship in May, Navy officials said.

Both the captain and executive officer were relieved of duty Wednesday after a fire damaged the ship in May.

Both the captain and executive officer were relieved of duty Wednesday after a fire damaged the ship in May.

Capt. David C. Dykhoff and his executive officer, Capt. David M. Dober, were relieved of duty while the ship is in port in San Diego, California, for repairs.

The two were fired because of practices on their ship that Navy investigators believe led to the fire, Navy officials said.

The Navy officials said investigators believe the fire was started when a cigarette ignited material stored in an engineering room.

Investigators found flammable liquids stored in an engineering area of the ship, which is strictly prohibited. Investigators also found that sailors were allowed to smoke in the same engineering areas, considered another violation.

It is estimated that the damage to the ship will cost about $70 million to repair, the Navy officials said.

The carrier was due to replace the aging USS Kitty Hawk, which is forward-based in Japan, this summer, but the fire delayed the handover. The incident also worried the Japanese government, which had agreed to have the nuclear-powered George Washington replace the oil-powered Kitty Hawk despite the country's long opposition to allowing nuclear ships dock there.

Navy officials said they expect the George Washington to be fully repaired and in Japan by the end of September.

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